Whether speaking to a class of 20 students or to a camera for 60 YouTube subscribers, sophomore Graham Wilhauk brings the same amount of enthusiasm and heart into his words every time he discusses his passion for classical novels.
Since late December 2015, Wilhauk has been posting weekly videos on his YouTube channel MegaManChiefFan about his love for classical novels. In the two months since he started the videos, he has gained 60 subscribers, some from school and some strangers.
Wilhauk decided to make his channel specific to the genre because of its lack of representation on YouTube.
“Most people read John Green and Cassandra Clare, which is more in the genre of YA. I don’t really like that,” Wilhauk said. “Since I’m more into classical novels, I thought I would make a channel about that.”
The channel features a variety of videos, ranging from monthly wrap-up videos summarizing and reviewing the books he read that month to “book haul” videos to give previews of recent purchases.
“If you don’t care about books, even if you want to burn them Fahrenheit 451 style, you can still enjoy my charisma and still enjoy my passion for it,” Wilhauk said.
Before making videos about classical novels, Wilhauk was using his channel to review and analyze comic books. After reading “1984” by George Orwell, his interest shifted.
Wilhauk’s passion for classic novels extends past the online platform, however. English teacher Anna Nelson, who has Wilhauk in both Pre-AP English 10 and Creative Writing II this year, sees Wilhauk’s drive to become an author when he analyzes the authors of the books they read in class during discussions. This is only one of the ways that his reading background sets him apart from other students.
“He thinks a lot about the author more than a lot of students do,” Nelson said. “In class discussion, he really picks up on author’s purpose and he really does a good job seeing … the person behind the writing and what their motivation was and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
In the future, Wilhauk’s would like to become a writer himself, and he said the skills he gains from reading classic literature help him to improve his writing skills in and out of class.
“I have a better understanding of grasping stories, characters and analyzing themes better,” Wilhauk said. “I feel like reading a ton of classic novels will help me have a greater understanding of not only storytelling, but analysis.”
For Wilhauk, reading is rewarding in more ways than just the ability to analyze and interpret themes and characters. It is a passion he hopes to carry through the rest of his life.
“It gives me the best form of escapism. I just turn my mind off and let the story flow through me,” Wilhauk said. “I read not to read, but I do it because I enjoy it. That’s the most simple answer I could probably give.”